Google’s Tool Shed: Free Tools & Why You Need Them | Ep. 30

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Talk nerdy to me. And by that we want you to ask us how, as a contractor, you can impact your business in a positive way without impacting your bottom line? Go ahead, ask us! We won’t get weird. We promise. Ok, maybe a little weird, but in a nerdy way.
 
Google’s free toolshed is at each and every contractor and business owner’s fingertips to take advantage of. So, if you’re not using them. You are missing out.
 
In this episode of the Trades Secrets podcast, we walk through all the tools we find helpful from Google and how they can help impact your business.
 
Here we go!
 
Episode Covers:
  1. What is Google Tag Manager and how to use it?
  2. The Google Analytics shift to GA4 and what that means for businesses
  3. How Google Local Service Ads are so powerful for your business
  4. What it means to be Google verified and why it’s so priceless
 
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Transcription: 

Devon Hayes: 

Hi, I’m Devon Hayes. 

Amanda Joyce:

And I’m Amanda Joyce. And today’s topic is Google’s tool shed free tools and why you need them. And here’s why you should care. Not only are these tools free, but they can greatly assist you in tracking and improving upon your marketing strategy. 

Devon Hayes:

Welcome to Trade Secrets, where we demystify digital marketing to help contractors get the most bang for their marketing bucks. 

Amanda Joyce:

This is for you if you’re a contractor looking for actionable marketing insights. 

Devon Hayes:

Learn from home services, industry experts to elevate your business through simplified marketing strategies. 

Amanda Joyce:

Let’s dive into today’s trade secret. This is, I, we say this at the beginning of every episode, but this is a really good topic. Before we dive in on these tools, one thing that we really want to make sure that we reiterate is how important it is for you guys to have access to all of these tools. They’re all free and they all just require a simple login. We really, really recommend to all of our clients that they make sure that they have access with one email so that you can log into all of these with one simple login, so you’re not scrambling around trying to figure out how to log into Google Analytics and all these other things with different email addresses. It sounds obvious, but I promise you, if you do the legwork and figure out how to access them and get them, get admin access to all of them in one email, you will be really happy about it in the future. 

Devon Hayes:

Yeah, it really, it really does seem to be the thing where it is so hard to find the logins once you, you know, you know, a lot of these exist, but you don’t know how to get to ’em. Um, but it is a pain point we see with probably nine out of 10 clients. They, they, it’s just always a, it’s always a pain point. So, um, one email login would be great. So if you’re starting from scratch, just use the same email, if not grant access or you’re not just yeah, grant 

Amanda Joyce:

The access, 

Devon Hayes:

Yeah, to the, to one master, maybe login email. With that, let’s dive in into tool number one. Okay, so this one is your Google Business profile. You probably already know what this one is. You probably already have access to it, but it’s free and it’s literally like the most important thing for your local positioning and local ranking on Google itself. So you wanna make sure you have this profile completely set up and fully optimized. 

Amanda Joyce:

Absolutely. And yeah, make sure you got access to it. 

Devon Hayes:

Yeah. So this is, this is where you’re going to reply to reviews. You’re gonna give a great description about your company and the areas that you serve. You are going to showcase your services and products and byproducts that’s kind of forward facing. So we tell our clients to put their services as a product and, you know, have a category for each one of those. But there’s FAQs on here. There are Q and As, and this is, you can ask and answer your own questions. That’s a great way to optimize this profile. You can do weekly post updates in the SEO world. It’s argued whether or not this actually has an impact on your positioning, but that top of mind awareness and keeping fresh content on your profile,  is a trust signal and does kind of let Google know that you are engaged, which engagement is huge, huge with Google themselves. They’ve changed the way you update your Google business profile, which, you know, indicates to us that it’s massively important that you are highly engaged with your profile. So anyways, posting weekly, any company updates, like uploading videos about your company, about the services, about different staff, pictures of your work, pictures of your staff, of your office building, all these things go into this first tool, your Google business profile. And in addition to being a great free tool, it helps with your organic and local visibility online. 

Amanda Joyce:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And then you can really think about it like just another social channel. You know, if you’re like, what do I post there? What are you posting on Facebook? What are you posting on Instagram? It’s, you know, very along in the same vein. You just wanna make sure that you’re keeping it active as Devon said. 

Devon Hayes:

Actually, I was, before we move on, I was gonna say pro tip. You can also have a website built for you with a click of a button based off of the information from your Google Business profile. So if you’re a brand new business, but you have really optimized the heck out of your profile, just go to the contact info and click on “website” and Google will build a website for you. It’s really limited on colors and fonts and things like that, but it is a free website if you need one. So there’s, there’s that pro tip for you. Okay, awesome. Number two. Okay, 

Amanda Joyce:

Next one is Google Analytics. And this tool is so important. We cannot underscore it enough. We did just talk about it in our, in a previous podcast episode that they just sunsetted universal Google Analytics, which most of us, if you have ever been inside your Google Analytics profile and have looked around and clicked around in it, it was probably universal. And now they’ve released a new version that’s called GA four. If you didn’t watch that episode, go back and check it out just so you can really learn about how you can take, really maximize it and get the most out of this tool. We go into a lot more detail than we’re going to right now, but, um, for those of you that aren’t familiar with Google Analytics, it’s placed on your website with a single pixel, and then it tracks all the stuff and things on your website. 

Amanda Joyce:

it’s really all the things that you can find there. It’s impressive from figuring out the path someone’s taking through your website, where people typically exit, whether you know how many form fills you’ve had that month. If you have call tracking set up, you can tell how many phone calls you’ve gotten, how many people have clicked on a button. I mean, the list goes on and on and on. So, it’s really critical information for you to have. It was really one of the first tools that Google released that was really just accepted universally that everybody needs it, and then they’ve since built on this tool chest, which we’re gonna move through. But Google Analytics is really that like, kind of first stop in making sure you have free information at your fingertips to learn what’s working for you online, what’s not, and you can even learn what’s maybe working offline if you have you know, if you’re running billboards and things like that, if suddenly you’re seeing an uptick right at in your web traffic after you’ve done some offline efforts, you’ll be able to see that directly in your analytics. 

Amanda Joyce:

You know, and there’s other ways you can get creative as well to, to track offline through Google Analytics, which we don’t have time to go into, but at the end of the day, it’s a really good just baseline to see where you are and where you’re going and to track the progress that you’re making. 

Devon Hayes:

And I think in, you know, one of the most like simplified metrics that our customers I know really care about is those traffic acquisition channels. So knowing is your traffic organic or is it paid, or is it coming from social media? This is where you would find that in information to see which of your marketing efforts is performing the best. So I think that that’s one of like the simplest metrics that I know contractors, business owners really care about when you’re throwing marketing dollars, you know, into different buckets. 

Amanda Joyce:

A hundred percent being able to see that traffic and then see what actions are taken off of it, that at the end of the day is where’s the traffic coming from and what traffic is actually, 

Devon Hayes:

What are they doing driving 

Amanda Joyce:

Sales. Mm-hmm. Yep. Exactly. Absolutely. Beautiful. 

Devon Hayes:

All right, this next one, next one, Google Tag Manager or GTM. This is Amanda’s playground. 

Amanda Joyce:

Yes. I’ve been getting to know it a lot more lately. It’s been around for quite a while and it, in its simplest form, enables you to put one single tracking pixel on your website, and then you can house all of your other tracking pixels inside of Google Tag Manager. So you don’t need a developer to go add code anywhere in your header or anything like that. So if something, you wanna put a Facebook pixel in place, rather than going to your website and figuring out where to, where to put it in, in your website, you can just add it inside Google Tag Manager and Google will manage all those tags in that profile, and it all just goes through that one single tag in your website. So it can really simplify things. I mean, pixels are getting smarter and smarter all the time, but back in the day, certain pixels would actually slow your website down. 

Amanda Joyce:

So this also took some of that load off your website and let it live nicely elsewhere. And again, it cuts out the need for that developer for some of this kind of, uh, simple stuff for this pixeling of your website. But even more importantly, now that they’re pushing us into, they’re forcing us into Google Analytics four, this GTM is critical because now you, you have to go in used to, we could go into the old version of Google Analytics and like set up a goal where we’d say, anytime anyone hits this page, you know, maybe your thank you page from your, from your form on your website, let’s call it a completed goal. With the new version of Google Analytics, you have to do that inside of GTM and then send it into Google Analytics for, so now it’s really an integral part of your Google Analytics setup. So if you’re not, if you weren’t using it previously, you’re you’re going to, it’s, you gonna have to start using it. 

Devon Hayes:

Yeah, protip, check with your agency, make sure they’ve got this set up and in place for you. It’ll be critical to track their performance and to track user behavior and to really use the data to come up with a clean marketing strategy. I was also gonna say, this is, I mean, this is where if you’re doing any like podcast marketing or radio marketing, they’re gonna give you a tracking pixel and instead of having them do it on the site, you can do it through GTM or Google Tag Manager. So, just another kind of example of who or why you would use  this free tool from Google. 

Devon Hayes:

Ooh, this next one, Google Search Console. Okay, so this is another, another piece of tracking, but it’s different than Google Analytics in that Google Analytics tracks what people do once they’re on your website, but Google Search Console gives you metrics on what they’re doing before they hit your website and are just, you know, within Google, that search engine results page itself. There are measurements in there on your website’s performance, your core vitals, which is a ranking factor, kind of gives you an idea of the overall health of your, of your website, how Google’s crawlers are viewing it, mobile usability, what kind of contrast do you have? Page speed, which is massively important for ranking, but kind of gives you all that in this one little playground. So that’s a piece of it. You can look at  and track the performance of a specific page on your website. 

Devon Hayes:

You can see how many times your website is served for specific search queries and what those queries are. It tells you how many, how many times you’re served, which is an impression and also how many times you’re actually clicked on clicked when you are served on Google itself. So it’s, it’s a great way to understand like, maybe, maybe you have a ton of impressions for a certain search query, but nobody’s clicking through. Go through and Google it. What does it look like? What are people seeing? And maybe like your SEO title or the, um, you know, the short description that’s popping up isn’t, isn’t the meta description you picked and it’s pulling from the page itself and it’s not really selling or enticing people to click through. Go in and, you know, that’ll tell you go ahead and make that change on your website itself and, and see if that drives more clicks versus just the impressions you’re getting cuz the impressions are telling you Google likes the content, but the lack of clicks kinda shows depending on the content could be their grabbing what they need and it’s a zero click search. 

Devon Hayes:

But, if it’s not a zero click search where the answer kind of pops out without having to click through to a page, you’re gonna wanna make updates to how that specific page is appearing within Google. Big, long explanation, but hopefully you understand how this tool can be used and this is also where, yeah, sorry..

Amanda Joyce:

Oh no, I was gonna say as well, like one of the things that I love the, I really love the most about search consoles, that feature you were talking about with the impressions and the clicks versus original Google Analytics, you could just tell, oh, this page is really strong because I’ve gotten x, it’s maybe I get the most clicks on this page of my whole website. And so used to, that’s just what we focus on, but now you can go back and look at it and get to see how much, how often Google’s actually showing you is actually way more to me. Interesting when you’re assessing what’s your strongest content more so than how many, if you’re just looking on the Google analytics side, you can only see how much traffic you’re getting versus like, what’s your actual reach on that piece. And just to reiterate what you’re saying, like whether you’re changing what’s showing up in the search results or maybe you’re like, dang, Google really likes this piece and it’s a couple years old, maybe we need to go back in and refresh it and like double down on it and see how we can get more out of it. 

Amanda Joyce:

It  just gives you a much bigger view. It’s more of like, like the view at your website from Google while Google Analytics is showing you what happens once they get there. 

Devon Hayes:

Yeah, definitely it is, it’s a great way to understand your content and user behavior for sure. And then something else, this is more relevant I think today than it was even like two years ago, but this is where you’re gonna submit your sitemap to Google and in layman’s terms, a site map, it just tells Google or any search engine all the URLs that are on your website. So the pages, the blog content, it just says, ‘Hey Google, this is what’s on my website.’ That’s what a site map is. But more recently Google has been indexing a lot of content. There’s just an overwhelming amount of content on the web now. And so a lot of websites are experiencing content that’s already, always just been indexed, is no longer indexed. And what that means is it’s not showing up on Google anymore. 

Devon Hayes:

For some reason Google is like, mm, we find this, this is not relevant, not important, not good enough content, we’re gonna pull it off the web. Um, once you figure out, oh shoot, this isn’t being served. I thought this was a great blog topic, and you go in and you make some updates and you improve the content, you make sure it’s really delivering value to the user, you’re gonna need to manually or you’re gonna want to manually submit this, maybe eventually over time Google will pick it back up. Maybe it discovered it and it knows that it’s there, but it’s not indexing it. You can manually submit URLs in your sitemap through Google Search Console. So if you’re investing in SEO, if you have an agency, you want to make sure your sitemap is being submitted and the content that is being written, is actually being indexed and stored on Google or else what’s the point. So the pro tip right there for you. Yeah, 

Amanda Joyce:

Definitely. Okay. Okay, next one. Google Ads and their keyword tool. So, Google Ads is obviously an ad platform that you can use to run ads in the search results. And in the Google display network you can also use it to run your YouTube ads. But even if you’re maybe don’t have budget for paid media right now and you’re not running ads or maybe you ran it previously and you just have an account sitting there, there is a, there are is a keyword tool hidden inside that that can be really great for just research and kind of understanding maybe where you could be focusing some of the content you’re writing or things along those lines. So within that they have both a keyword tool that will just give you volume and cost per clicks for any given search term that you throw into it. 

Amanda Joyce:

So it can really help you understand, you know, where the volume lies. I mean there’s other third party tools out there that are available to you too, some free, some paid, but this is a free Google tool so we definitely wanted to make sure we highlighted it today. And in addition they also have the discovery tools. So you can go in there and say maybe these are my three or four keywords. I’m really focused on service-based keywords that I really wanna make sure I’m ranking for organically. Let me throw those in the discover tool and it will spit back other related keyword searches that maybe you haven’t considered. So it’s a really great thing to take advantage of whether you’re running ads or not. Even if you haven’t ever run ads before and you don’t plan to in the near future, you can go in and just create a Google ad account and you don’t even have to set up a campaign and it those, the tool dropdown when you will be immediately available to you, you can click in there and play around, um, and start tapping into some of that, that data that Google otherwise holds pretty tight lipped. 

Devon Hayes:

Beautiful. 

Amanda Joyce:

Yeah, the next one I’ll, I’ll just dive in on this one cause  it’s ads related as well, but the other one is Google Local service ads. That’s another one that is free and you don’t have to run ads if you don’t want to, but you can, once you go through the process of applying and being accepted into the program, you have to keep certain things updated year to year, but then you can get that Google guarantee badge, which is, you know, talk about a trust signal that then you can put across all of your marketing materials on your truck wraps, on your business cards, wherever you want to do it. But you get that little extra badge of trust from Google and again, you don’t even have to spend a single dollar with them to go through the process to just get that Google guarantee. 

Amanda Joyce:

And just a quick kind of rundown of what is required to get into the program, it’s definitely regional. It depends on what they require there locally. Maybe you don’t have to be licensed in your given trade in your locale. They might not require proof of licensure, but they will always require a background check on one of the business owners and proof of insurance. And then depending on your local laws, you might have to also provide licensure. Then there’s a quick couple days where they run your background check and then you’re in the program and as long as you keep that insurance updated year to year and licensure, if it’s required, you can keep, you know, wave that badge everywhere you go and taking advantage of that ex that extra trust signal. 

Devon Hayes:

Yeah, and I wanna pause and talk about that for a second. It really is powerful just having Google guaranteed and having that badge as a consumer. Um, you know, we all kind of trust Google and then getting that guaranteed badge when you’re talking about, um, you know, a contractor or anyone in the home services space. None of us wanna be taken advantage of. None of us want to work with like a shoddy contractor. None of us want to feel like stupid. And so, you know, seeing that Google guaranteed badge on a website like it, it inherently implies trust to the consumer. Cause that means, you know, you’ve been vetted out by this massive, you know, global conglomerate and you got the, you got the thumbs up and so, you know, you can’t get that without this thorough background check and proof of insurance and all these things. 

Devon Hayes:

So it really is impactful to us as consumers. So I really, yeah, and being able to have that visual cue without having to say anything and just having that on your site and like you said, your truck reps and job site marketing and you know, whatever that might be, it really, it really is powerful. So taking the time to do that is huge. And I know, um, Google guaranteed is not offered worldwide. We know it’s not offered in Australia and we know, you know, there’s certain, um, countries where they don’t have it yet, but they will so hop on board and be an early adapter once, once it comes to town. But, yeah, it’s, I mean it is, it’s the tool itself, the Google local service ads is, is incredibly powerful and great, like a great service having just like a set cost per lead. But yeah, the value of the badge, like you can’t even put a dollar amount on that and, and how much it helps with conversion. So anyways, didn’t wanna like to be remiss to really call that out. 

Amanda Joyce:

Yeah, no, absolutely. Okay, next tool 

Devon Hayes:

Google Trends. This is a fun one. We use this a lot in the SEO world simply because, you know, sometimes we’ll have a client in a market and we’re like, what is going on? Well, if you can look at the Google trends and look at the search volume, maybe it, it isn’t just, you know, your company, maybe it’s, you know, all pool contractors in a specific market for whatever reason, the actual search volume for like pool contractor Denver is, is down year over year. And it isn’t just you, it’s kind of a nice gut check, but you can see what keywords are trending, how popularly they’ve been over time. You can do year over year comparisons. You can compare it if you’re considering one keyword over another, you can compare the two. Do you wanna do a hot water system installation or water, water heater install? You know, just there’s, look at how people are searching and this can help you kind of make a decision. You can narrow it down geographically and you can compare what I think up to three or four terms. 

Amanda Joyce:

Yeah

Devon Hayes:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, what else? And you, you’re in here all the time too with Google Trends. 

Amanda Joyce:

Exactly. No, I, I just, I really like to be able to, to do that comparison and look, you know, back over a long period of time. You can look back, you can even go worldwide look back over the last year. Um, you can just kind of parse it out and figure out, you know, try to find anomalies in there to help you identify the keywords that you’re going after. Or maybe something’s really kind of starting to get a groundswell in popularity and so it’s not gonna come up in a lot of your tools as maybe one of the like front runners or the keyword you’d wanna go after, but it’s slowly inching its way up there, you know, you can decide to target that keyword instead of maybe the keyword everyone else in your market’s gunning for and you can kind of ride that, that wave as you know, a new search trend is, is, you know, coming up. 

Devon Hayes:

Beautiful. And then last but not least, we have Google alerts 

Amanda Joyce:

And yes, Google 

Devon Hayes:

Alerts. I know, 

Amanda Joyce:

Yeah, this is one that’s, yeah, it’s been around for a really long time, but it’s, I mean, it’s a great one to just kind of keep track, keep a thumb on, maybe on, on your brand in general, on your competitors, on the names of people within your organization, key industry terms, maybe manufacturers just to, to get shoot you a quick email, a quick note anytime, something suddenly, you know, getting some, some traction. Then that way you can keep track of, you know, maybe one of your competitors are sent out a press release and you wanna know what it’s about or anything along those lines. It’s a quick way to keep you from having to go out and, and just be perusing all the time to see what’s, what’s popping up in search results. Google will, you know, be your homie and just shoot you a quick email and let you know what’s going on. Yeah, so that you can kinda stay on top of things. 

Devon Hayes:

And this is, this is a great way to, this is a great lookout for like brand awareness. If you have a Google Alert set up for your company name, um, this is a great way to potentially get back links for your website. So if your company name is mentioned and you go to the article and they’re actually not linking back to your website, you can just send them a quick note and say, Hey, uh, thank you for mentioning my company and your article. I think it was an oversight, but here’s our url. I would love it if you plugged that in, because that’s your brand name out there and you should get a back link off of it. Backlinks help you with seo. And so, you know, why not get a free one if they’re already mentioning your company? Unless I mean, or if it’s something negative, it allows you to kind of get in front of it and reach out and be like, Hey, why didn’t anyone reach out to me for comment? Um, I would love to, you know, at least be able to say something or defend myself or whatever it might be. Hopefully that’s not the case, but, um, it’s a, yeah, so it’s a great opportunity for backlinks as well. So it’s for your name, your company name, what do we say any key industry terms, like it’ll, it, you can just, that’s, that’s a great way to monitor your reputation and then again, like build backlinks. So 

Amanda Joyce:

Absolutely. In some cases you might, even if you’re watching a competitor and you see they just got some love from an organization that you realize, oh, well they, you know, I might be able to reach out and ask if we could be featured in their next article. Um, it can be a way too to kind of keep track of, you know, where other people might be garnering strong backlinks and you can, you know, hop on there and make sure that your competitor’s not, not getting too far ahead of you in, in that, in that world.

Devon Hayes:

Yeah, definitely. So, we will list all of these with links in the episode notes. We’ll just kind of run through the quick list of tools and, and this is not an exhaustive list. There are so many free tools from Google out there, some of them are sunsetting within the next month or two. So we left those out. There’s a whole marketing platform. There is, I mean, there’s just, there’s a, a ton. There’s Google Sheets, Google Docs, Google Drive, I mean, we could go on and on and on. So, by no means is this like an exhaustive list, but we’ll, we’ll recap the ones we’ve, we’ve covered in this episode. We have your Google business profile, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Search Console, Google Ads and keyword tool, Google Local Service ads, Google Trends, and Google Alerts. 

Amanda Joyce:

Awesome. There you have it. Those are your free tools that we think can really positively impact your business as a contractor. We hope that if you’re not taking advantage of ’em yet, you’ll take a peek or you’ll chat with your agency about it. And if there is one that we missed that you feel is really impactful for contractors, please, you know, reach out and let us know. 

Devon Hayes:

Absolutely. Thanks for listening and feel free to share this episode with anyone you think that could get some value out of it. We appreciate you. 

Amanda Joyce:

That was today’s trade secret. Thanks for listening. 

Devon Hayes:

Did you find this helpful? We’re just getting started, 

Amanda Joyce:

Subscribe, and don’t miss our next reveal. 

Devon Hayes:

Until next time.